Why am I so tired after COVID?

By Amrit Dockery, D.O.
Family medicine, Utica Park Clinic - Owasso

Post-viral fatigue is one of the most common complaints amongst people who have had COVID infection. This can happen with any viral illness, not just COVID-19 infection. Post-viral fatigue is the result of dysregulation of the immune system from the robust and intense immune response that takes place during COVID infection. During infection, our immune system has to work hard to fight the infection by activating our lymphocytes, a type of immune cell, and producing cytokines, molecules that induce inflammation in the body to help fight the infection. Many times, it is the inflammatory response that makes us feel very sick and have low energy levels. After the infection is over, it can take time for our body’s immune system to go back to normal and for the effects of inflammation to go away. The length of time it takes for our body and immune system to return to normal is determined by several factors, including overall health status (co-morbidities and medications), diet, activity levels and environment. 

It is important to optimize all areas, so we are physically and mentally well-balanced, allowing our body to return to a state of normal function. If other diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. and stress levels stay uncontrolled, our body takes much longer to return to normal. It is important to rest adequately during sickness, stay hydrated, eat well balanced meals and reduce external stressors as much as possible.